Documenting the Canterbury Quakes: Te Papa launches AV series

Since the Canterbury Earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, Te Papa has been collecting objects relating to the earthquakes.  We have been particularly interested in objects which demonstrate acts of public support, such as fundraising and spirit-raising initiatives, and creative and entrepreneurial responses to the earthquakes.

’Aftersocks’, 2011, New Zealand. Rural Women New Zealand, New Zealand Sock Company. Purchased 2011. Te Papa

In March we began working with director / producer Liz Grant and John Chrisstoffels from the University of Canterbury film school, to film a series of interviews with some of the people behind the objects we have collected. We conducted seven interviews, most of which are an hour in length, and which are amazing in their content. While the full interviews are being archived by Te Papa, Liz and John have edited the interviews into six punchy AVs, ranging from 7 to 12 minutes in length. They can be viewed on Te Papa’s YouTube channel. Over the next month I will highlight one a week.

First off the rank is Gap Filler, namely because I was moved and inspired by them all over again when I heard them talk at the City Gallery, Wellington on Sunday in a session entitled Making Dreams Reality. Of all of our the interviewees, they are the most tenuously linked to an object in our collection. They link to the Silty Brick, a paver made from liquefaction and sold to raise money for Gap Filler and Greening the Rubble’s initiatives.

Silty Brick

‘Silty’ Brick, , 2011. Urban Paving and Landscape Supplies. Purchased 2011. Te Papa

The interview features Coralie Winn and Ryan Reynolds, who founded Gap Filler after the September 2010 earthquake with Andrew Just. Wellingtonians will be delighted to know that the idea was in part inspired by the cafe-in-a-caravan-cum-garden-centre-cum-night market that used to be on the corner of Cuba and Webb Streets.

Gap Filler’s core aim is to ‘temporarily activate vacant sites within Christchurch with creative projects, to make for a more interesting, dynamic and vibrant city’. At the beginning of her Sunday talk, Coralie showed image after image of  ‘gaps’ in Christchurch. The broken down buildings and rubble that we have been so used to seeing, has been meticulously cleared away, leaving more empty gaps than non-gaps. She asked us to imagine standing outside of Floriditas on Cuba Street and to imagine looking up the street and only seeing two or three buildings standing. It was a sobering start to an inspiring talk.

Gap Filler has endeavoured to work with the people of Christchurch to turn these bleak gaps into lively public spaces. They have created a cycle powered cinema, petanque court, book exchange, portable dance floor and are currently building a Summer Pavilion out of pallets.

To find out more about Gap Filler’s projects and their aspirations for Christchurch’s future take a few minutes  to watch our video on Gap Filler. It will make you think not only about Christchurch, but about your own community and how it too can be enhanced with can-do attitude. You can also follow their activities through their website or by connecting to their Facebook page.

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